Let us not totally discard the FA Cup…

January 6, 2023

Our squad is of course thin and has been made thinner with the injury to G.Jesus and is prone to becoming too thin if Partey, Xhaka, Saka, Ode, Martinelli or Nketiah get injured…Their back ups are just not at the same level…so risking an injury to them may be just too risky…YET, the FA Cup is a fantastic competition and we have a good record in it. We have to respect the competition and give it a go – a trophy is a trophy…

We are playing Oxford, not the biggest name in football so we may have a bit of room for rotation but let us not rotate the whole team and keep some first squad elements in it to put the game comfortably behind Oxford’s reach at half-time…This will allow us to bring in some youngsters to the fold…

Ramsdale – Tomy, Saliba, Holding, Tierney – El Neny, Xhaka – Vieira, Ode, ESR – Nketiah

Second half:

Turner – Tomy, Saliba, Holding, Tierney – El Neny, Lokonga – Marquinhos, Vieira, Taylor-Hart – ESR

Let us win this tie and let us keep looking at options to improve our squad’s quality and depth.


Keep calm and carry on…although it is hard not to get excited

January 3, 2023

The last matchday’s results were quite kind to our beloved club and we are now sitting with a 7 points lead at the top of the EPL…

Yet, we are still a young team that has quite some room for improvements especially in defensive phases or when facing an agressive press. Our defensive set-up sometimes loses its shape and calm when put under pressure.

We have now quite some fixtures coming up:

  • Newcastle at home
  • Tottenham away
  • Man Utd at home
  • Everton away
  • Brentford at home
  • Man City at home
  • Villa away

It is all about building a strong series so we really need to win the first 3 games of this series and then we can go in the next 4 with some confidence and less pressure. All 3 games are tough with Newcastle having a wonderful season, Tottenham who will want to play their best against us and a Utd team with a resurgent Rashford who always bothers us…Bag 9 points by hook or by crook and then we can serenely prepare for Everton, Brentford and City…If we come out with 16 points out of these 7 games, we will still be leading the EPL BUT we would still have to play City, Liverpool and Newcastle away and Chelsea at home so the road is long and while hopes and expectations are raising, we need to keep calm and carry on…starting tonight against a strong Newcastle team.

Neutralizing Trippier, Guimares, Joelington, Almiron, Maximin and Wilson. Theryare very good at set pieces with Schar and Botman in the air so that will be a tough battle for Gabs and Saliba. We need to dictate in midfield and also bully Schar and Botman’s lack of pace. Burn is great going forward but Saka can take advantage of his defensive lapses. I think this game is in Party-Xhaka’s hands to be honest – if they control the midfield, we will be ok but if not, I can see us suffer a lot…


Happy New Year fellow bloggers!


December 29, 2022

We now have an undisputed hot first eleven – make that first sixteen, with the top players who can’t get into the starting line-up at the moment. I think it’s fair to say there’s not one player in that group who is not worth more than when he got into the squad. Some, if we had to move them on, would make the club massive spondulicks.

However, as the Gabriel Jesus situation has illustrated, when injuries happen, as they surely will, it’s who’s behind the superstars that make the difference to success chasing honours.

Arsenal supporters don’t seem over enthusiastic about some of our back-up players, but I would like to put in a good word for some of them.

One of my favourite players, since he joined us for diddly-squat from Bolton, while Man City were paying a sultan’s ransom for Stones, is Rob Holding. An integral part of the Mertesacker FA Cup win, he has always given everything to the cause. He’s not fast, he doesn’t read the game brilliantly in open play, his distribution can be iffy. But if you want backs-to-the-wall defending deep in your area and deep in the game, I certainly always feel comfortable when Arteta sends him on, and he holds up five fingers to indicate the strategy. Moreover, he seems totally happy with his role as back-up penalty box specialist. If he is required he’s always ready and reliable. From what one sees in training videos, he’s popular and influential.

On the same level, and all of the above, is Mo Elneny. He also lacks speed. He can be a bit lightweight in one-on-ones. But he rarely gives the ball away, has good control and reasonable vision, and also never seems to complain or sulk at his lack of minutes on the pitch.

I guess I should include Eddie Nketiah, simply because if everyone’s fit he’s unlikely to start. But really, I do believe he’s now first team quality. The way he took his goal against West Ham – well, actually, I think it was better than GJ himself might have done! The main reason for adding him is the patience and mentality he has shown, waiting for his chance – and the way he has seized it when required.

I also think Cedric Soares has been underrated, but only because of the huge drop-off from our magnificent Tomiyasu, White, Tierney and Zinchenko. Notwithstanding, he is utterly reliable, and another who is always ready to be patient and then do a job when called upon. It seems he might be leaving, which is a shame, but a couple of youngsters in the shape of Sousa and Walters are emerging to push him further down the pecking order.

Matt Turner showed in the World Cup, firstly why Arsenal were keen to buy him, and secondly, how exponentially he has improved since he joined us. He’s still a notch down from the charismatic Ramsdale, but not so much that I’d be fretting if he has to play. Another who bides his time patiently.

I only perceive one player in the entire squad who is letting the side down: Sambi Lokonga. If he survives the January window, I can see him being off-loaded in the summer. He has loads of skill and physical attributes, but his mentality has been lost. The result is that when he is given time in a game, he fails to fulfil his potential. It’s a shame, but he’s the epitome of attitude defeating talent. I believe there will be plenty of suitors on the continent, and he will flourish in the right environment.

I have no doubt that in the coming months we will need our yeoman back-ups, and I’m certainly content to see Elneny’s Nketia’s Turner’s and Holding’s name on the team sheet (and Cedric’s, should he still be at the club after January).



December 27, 2022

Come on. We’re all at it now. “Of course, I know Arsenal has no chance of actually winning the League this season”, while thinking, “Ohmigod, I can’t help believing they’re going to do it!”

And it’s all Mikel Arteta’s fault – not to mention Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard, Gabriel Martinelli, Eddie Nketia, Granit Xhaka, Thomas Partey, Kieran Tierney, Oleg Zinchenko, Gabriel Magalaes, William Saliba, Benjamin White, Aaron Ramsdale. If I leave out ESR, Tomi, Jesus, it’s only that they’re not available at the moment.

Firstly, they’re winning. This is what every supporter desires of their team, but so few of us experience on a sustained basis.

But more. They are playing with such brio, such confidence, such pace, such touch, such control, one feels swept along on this tide of belief.

They go 0-1 down to a soft penalty. No longer do we feel doom and gloom. We are happy that they will solve the problem. And we are proved correct.

A couple of favourite moments from the West Ham encounter: foremost has to be when Saka bullied Declan Rice off the ball, then grabbed it from Odegaard’s toes to instigate the move that led to Martinelli’s goal; another involving Rice, when Martinelli forced a corner off Dawson, and the camera showed a desperate and exhausted Rice trudging back into his penalty area, looking round hopelessly at his inept teammates; everything that Ben White did – this guy is just so cool, so sublime, who one dreamed of being in the school playground, who exudes not giving a shit; everything that Martin Odegaard does, with his eye for a crucial pass and his twinkle toes and his non-stop effort; Gaby terrorising defenders; Eddie’s superb roll of Kehrer and unstoppable shot.

Wow. Torn between ecstasy and waiting for the dream to crash. Is it going to be like this till May? I’m over seventy now, and not sure my heart can keep up, but still I hope so.


Jesus out until March…Nketiah’s time? Nah…we need to get a striker in the transfer window but are the options?

December 6, 2022

First thing first…I think England will win against France, unfortunately for me…but England has the better team and we have some outstanding players so…

So Jesus got injured on his only start in the WC…What bad luck! Anyways, we hope he can come back stronger and soon…

Now we need a hard working striker but who?

  • J. David or Buchanan from Canada?
  • Osimhen from Nigeria?
  • Michail Antonio?
  • Raphael Borre from Columbia?
  • Tammy Abraham from England?
  • Lucas Holer from Germany?
  • Ben Yedder or Neal Maupay from France?
  • Osihmen from Nigeria?

So the search is on but really, we are gonna miss G. Jesus

Five Points Clear

November 12, 2022

So would you still accept top four, really? You know what I mean, how long ago was it that you would have accepted that trifle, that mere bauble, at the beginning of the season, after the Tottenham win, after the Liverpool win, after the Chelsea win or in my case today after the City loss and our fine win against a well drilled Wolves side? Top four, pah, I want the whole cake now with icing and cherries on the top. 

Ramsdale: if you do your job properly which he did, and keep a clean sheet, which he did and the team win, which we did, why isn’t that a perfect performance worthy of the highest score? 10

Zinchenko: our Ukrainian clearly has a larger than life personality and it occurred to me that his play reflects that, there were moments today when I thought that that was a hindrance, slightly less bling and a bit more precision. Still a superb signing, love him. 7   

Gabriel: unusually looked like the more commanding central defender today, a very solid performance. 8

Saliba: it was quite a shock to see that he is human and capable of making mistakes, which he did in the first half, but obviously had a large gulp of Mikel’s magic half time juice and came out for the second and played to his usual commanding best. 7

White: the thing I don’t understand is why doesn’t Arteta encourage Benny Blanco to come inside, the same way he clearly does with Zinchenko? White is obviously capable of playing in different positions and taking on different roles, if he were encouraged to play a bit more centrally he could be the answer to the nightmare scenario of TP getting injured. Defensively as sound as ever but not quite as effective going forward but I think that had more to do with Saka being off the pace. 7

Partey: and onto the nightmare scenario of a TP injury, well my nightmare is that without him, we are a top sixish team fighting for a Europa place. The man is world class and a joy to watch, I wonder if he has a brother? 8

Odegaard: I just found out that Norway didn’t qualify for the World Cup, resuuuult, go find a quite beach Martin, have a long rest and come back and play as well as you did today. MOTM 9

Xhaka: stomach issues, get well soon Granit, you were missed.

Martinelli: a bit quiet today by his standards but was still key in both goals (love the contradiction) has Martinelli got his own song? Should have. 7

Jesus: we need a 25 goal a season striker, no we don’t, we need a player who is going to help us win more games than anyone else this season, and this guy is delivering, worked tirelessly. 8

Saka: was well marked but that doesn’t usually stop him, not his usual effective self. 6

Sub. Vieira: he has been poor recently; I think most have wondered if that has been down to playing with lesser talents in games in the Europa and the League Cup? Well today was his chance to play with the A team for the best part of ninety minutes and show that his superb Brentford performance was not a one off. In my opinion he did this, he did enough to reassure that he has a bright future with us this was underlined by his perfect chip for Odegaard to score our first goal. 7


October 30, 2022

Ok, come on, fess up, which one of you set out this season’s fixture list, it had to be an Arsenal supporter there can be no other answer for it. We were in a slump, not a rut but signs of fatigue were starting to show themselves — Southampton and even more so against PSV. After that loss Mikel Arteta spoke of the need for a ‘reset’, a means to get us back to winning ways. What fixture could have been kinder, enter lowly Forrest, occupying the position at the bottom of the League and clearly ready to help us in out hour of need. A five nil thumping was just what the doctor ordered, a fine display of happy football and the restoration of our position at the top of the league. COYRRG.

Ramsdale: not a lot to do but what he did do he did well, had clearly been practising dangerous incoming corners as he cleanly plucked the one he had to. 7

Ben White: another top performance; has proved that he can play in more than one position and play it well, I don’t know why Arteta doesn’t try him out just ahead of the back line in the Europa games and that way we can keep Partey rapped in cotton wool, only to be uncovered for the all important League games. 7

Saliba: this is interesting, when he returned at the beginning of the season there was a real swagger about him, a look of  “you are lucky to have me, I can go anywhere” he wasn’t wrong and his play backed up his swagger – he has changed, why? Because he now cares, he is one of the team and has bought into the whole “all for one and one for all” mentality that exists within this Arsenal team. A classy, but a more human display. 8

Gabriel: there is no doubt that when he signed his new contract and committed to the club until 27 that one of the hierarchy, probably Edu said to him around signature time “ Ok, you are now settled, it is time to stamp out the hot headed nonsense” must have been as he has been the consummate professional since, there is still an error in him; he handed Forrest their best chance of the match – one step at a time. 7

Tomiasu: interesting choice, it makes sense to play him against a left footed winger in games that the opposition are going to come on to us, think Salah, but it is clear (at least to me) that when we are playing teams in which we should be on the front foot which was Southampton and certainly today then Tierney offers more attacking options down that flank than Tomiasu does. I am not sure why Arteta makes this choice; the answer can only be that he is too important in Arteta’s mind to leave on the bench. Played well enough, played even better when he switched to the right. 7

Xhaka: I am one of those who has completely bought into the resurrection of Granit, I walk around singing his song – bang, bang, we’ve got Granit Xhaka, we’ve got, bang, bang Granit Xhaka but I felt as we came into this game, if we are relying on Xhaka to score us winners something is not quite right, another solid performance from someone who clearly is a leader and a winner. 7

Partey: I remember describing him as “World Class”, when he first arrived, only to be shot down by people who knew better, hmmm, well do you get it now — class, pure class. 9

Odegaard: back to his best today, a captain’s performance and a really well taken goal. 8

Martinelli: tormented the life out of the Forrest defence, brilliant first goal. 7.5

Jesus: we clearly need a new number 9, we got a duff’un; this one doesn’t work properly. Worked his socks off. 7

Saka: classy cross for Martinelli to come onto for our first, hope the injury isn’t too bad.

Subs: Nelson, well done Reis and you are deservedly my MOTM; he knew he had been given a rare opportunity and was visibly worried about messing it up, went in at half time, Arteta sprinkled his confidence dust over him and he came out and turned to game completely back into our favour. 2 goals and an assist might not only be club changing goals they could be career changing goals, I wish him well. 8

EPL – Episode 10 – AFC hosts Liverpool

October 9, 2022

While many pundits and fans may see us as clear favourites for this game based on both teams’ current form, I would be more cautious for a few reasons:

  1. Liverpool is an injured animal and they will want to prove a point;
  2. Liverpool’s quality is still there with Alisson, TAA, Van Dijk, Robertson, Henderson, Salah, Firmino, Diaz and D. Nunez is a great CF so…
  3. We have failed to capitalize on our dominance vs Utd and got punished for it;
  4. We still concede quite some big chances
  5. We have often played poorly in games that mattered in the league under Arteta…

so there you go, while our form is clearly better than Liverpool’s, we need to put things into perspective and remind ourselves to keep calm, focused, committed and smart throughout this match. Win this game and LFC will have a hard time to catch up with us in the Top 4 race, Lose this game and they are edging closer to us along with other teams that won yesterday like City and Spurs…

No slip up today and a win is required but it will not be easy…not at all. Let us play 11 vs 11, a red card would doom us

Ramsdale – White, Saliba, Gabs, Zinchenko – Partey, Xhaka – Saka, Ode, Martinelli – Jesus

Players to watch: Robertson, Firmino, Diaz, Salah, TAA, Van Dijk

Players to target: TAA, Upamecano or Matip, Henderson

It will be important for Partey to closely monitor Firmino’s movement. Also Saka and Martinelli will need to watch LFC’s full-backs and White will not have it easy with Diaz and same for Zinchenko with Salah. Win the midfield battle and we will be ok. Big game for Partey, Xhaka, Ode today.

Predicted score: 2-2 with goals from Saka and Jesus for us and Firmino and Diaz for them

Wanted score: 2-1


Will Eddie and Vieira prove to be impact players for us even in the EPL?

October 7, 2022

Another win in the Europa League yesterday. A comfortable 3-0 win in front of our crowd and barring the first 15 mins of the second half, we controlled and dominated the game. Tierney, Xhaka, Vieira, Martinelli and Nketiah were particularly brilliant and Holding did not do himself any harm either. Another start and another goal for both Eddie and Vieira. They are proving to be decisive in the final third and this is what we asked them to be primarily so…the question is whether they can also have similar impact in the EPL as subs and starters?

Eddie has already demonstrated that he can hold his own in the EPL and Fabio is clearly a talented player so there is a positive mood around both these players but what do you think?

COYG! Get ready to beat Liverpool!

Who would make your England squad as the WC is approaching and would it include many AFC players?

October 4, 2022

Here is my take on it. England has a wealth of talent at its disposal, yet again…but for some reason, they have lost their shape and defensive stability after the Euro. 2 reasons for that: Philips has been missing due to injuries and Maguire is bottling all his games…So who goes to Qatar?

3 GK: Pickford, Ramsdale, Pope…not much for debate here except that Dean Henderson can feel frustrated by the way Man U treated him last season

2 RB: Reece James, K. Trippier

4 CB: K. Walker, J. Stones, Dier, B.White or C. Coady or T. Mings

2 LB: B. Chilwell, Luke Shaw

3 DM: D. Rice, K. Philips (if fit), J. Ward Prowse

3 CM: Bellingham, Henderson, Foden

3 AM: Mount, Maddisson, Grealish

3 FW: Saka, Rashford, Sterling

2 CF: Kane, Toney

1 spot left for TAA or Sancho or Wilson or Watkins or Abraham…I would take TAA because he can unlock games with a shot or a clever pass but I think Sancho will be in the plane

Best first XI:

Ramsdale – Trippier, Walker, Stones, Chilwell – Rice, Philipps – Saka, Mount, Foden – Kane

in Gary’s 3-4-3:

Ramsdale – Walker, Stones, Dier – Reece James, Rice, Philipps, Chilwell – Sterling, Kane, Foden

In any case, Gary has to take Ramdale and Saka for sure and I think there is a case for B. White too